OWOSSO — A local barber shop opened Monday, defying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order that all non-essential businesses remain closed until at least May 15 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Owner Karl Manke plans on staying open, too — unless he is forced to close.
Karl Manke’s Barber & Beauty Shop, 421 W. Main St., was open Monday morning with Manke giving haircuts. Social media posts indicate Manke and customers were donning masks. He would not disclose how many customers he had Monday, but said he stayed busy.
“I did a lot of them,” Manke said. “I worked 14 hours yesterday. And I never had a break.”
Businesses or individuals that operate during Gov. Whitmer’s “stay safe, stay home” order can be charged with a misdemeanor and/or fined. But Manke said he has no choice but to open to generate income.
“(The quarantine) knocked me to my knees,” Manke said. “I cannot afford to stay closed. I’ve gone six weeks without a paycheck. I have fear, but I’m working through it. I’m afraid they’re going to arrest me. I’m not trying to deny the law.”
Owosso police have apparently already warned Manke he can be charged and/or fined if he continues to operate during the quarantine.
Public Safety Director Kevin Lenkart said today Owosso police are coordinating with the prosecutor’s office and the health department on further enforcement actions.
Manke claims he isn’t intentionally trying to do anything illegal.
“They did contact me and tell me I was in violation, and it is a misdemeanor,” Manke added. “This mandate came from the state attorney general’s office. I’m not certain that’s legal. I’m not trying to be a scofflaw, or go against good conscience. We’re practicing all the distancing in the shop and we’re wearing masks. We’re practicing all of the standards. I don’t feel I’m putting other people at risk. They can make that decision for themselves.”
Manke said he planned on opening his shop again this morning at 10 a.m.